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Owner Awarded $69,000 in Damages and Attorney Fees for Association's Failure to Take Action on Second Hand Smoke Complaint

November 4, 2013

After a five-week trial (yes . . . five weeks), a California Orange County Jury awarded a homeowner in a condominium association $15,000 in damages for exposure to second hand smoke. The lawsuit was brought against the condominium association, the manager, and the tenants. The Plaintiff prevailed on both negligence and nuisance claims against the Association, essentially due to the Association's failure to take sufficient action upon receiving complaints. Following trial, the Court awarded the Plaintiff another $54,000 in attorney fees pursuant to the attorney fee provision in the Declaration. Including costs of defense for a two-year lawsuit and a five-week trial, the total loss to the Association likely exceeded $300,000. This case stands as a good lesson on the shifting attitudes regarding smoking and the Association's need to carefully consider its obligations in the governing documents.

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